September 06, 2003

Brave Henin-Hardenne Lifts U.S. Open Title: This article confused me, being a Reuters post and not from a high school newspaper: "But Henin-Hardenne is hewn from tougher stuff than that...Her sublime God-given talent is backed by a steely temperament and a deep determination." And more of the same. Can we pile on and poke fun at writer Ossian Shine?

posted by billsaysthis to tennis at 10:18 PM - 36 comments

Plus, this is a first for me: FPPs on SpoFi and MeFi on the same day. W00t!

posted by billsaysthis at 10:18 PM on September 06, 2003

Perhaps you're being a little harsh on the guy. I don't see much wrong with his voice. Then again, I'm not much for formality.

posted by garfield at 08:48 AM on September 08, 2003

This final captivated me not at all. I know that competition is good, blah blah blah, but any tournament Serena and Venus don't play in I'm not watching. Now, had Serena and Venus been IN the tournament and gotten knocked out, I would watch, but under prevaling circumstances I just can't get myself to care.

posted by vito90 at 10:20 AM on September 08, 2003

vito, she did beat Serena at the French. That's gotta be worth something.

posted by garfield at 10:53 AM on September 08, 2003

garfield, I agree, and I kept one eye on the French Open final because of that fact...

posted by vito90 at 10:58 AM on September 08, 2003

Right on. I agree with your point as well. There is a certain 'TIGER' factor at play to watching Slams sans the/a Williams/es.

posted by garfield at 11:08 AM on September 08, 2003

I'm sick of the Williams sisters already. Some other giant muscled woman needs to come around and kick their ass. I love that they've both basically given up any facade of humbleness or graciousness at this point. On the other hand - Belgium must feel pretty good about their tennis these days. And when was the last time you heard 'Belgium' and 'victory' in the same sentence?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:45 AM on September 08, 2003

I love that they've both basically given up any facade of humbleness or graciousness at this point. Might I redirect you to this thread? Note that the thread incorrectly names Venus as the player in question when it was actually Serena...but the point stands. I think the William's sisters frequently get bashed unfairly. Can you name specific examples of times when they've been ungracious?

posted by vito90 at 12:10 PM on September 08, 2003

Can you name specific examples of times when they'vebeen ungracious? Well, whenever they lose a match (admittedly that's not very often) they almost never compliment the opponent but instead blames it on an injury or their own playing. Maybe they're just being honest, but every other tennis player would at least compliment the other opponent.

posted by gyc at 12:26 PM on September 08, 2003

I haven't seen someone do the splits that often, and live to tell about it, since Sorority, wrong blog. Klisters was amazing, and to have two Belgians in Slam Finals twice this year is quite a feat. I blame confidence for Williams' publicity faux pas, but a little humility could go a long way.

posted by garfield at 12:35 PM on September 08, 2003

Vito - little things, like bowing out of tournaments stating injuries and then appearing on the MTV video awards. It doesn't piss me off per-se, but I'm sure the Serena album is around the corner to coinside with her movie deals. It's just a little too much me, me, me. Frankly, it's just unnactractive and greedy. The attitude suggests that their bigger than the sport that got them where they are. Except I pity Venis a bit - she had only about a year before she went from the best player in the world, to not even the best at the dinner table.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:15 PM on September 08, 2003

The attitude suggests that their bigger than the sport that got them where they are. Maybe these two are bigger, that would hardly be the first time someone was. So what? I say let them earn while they can, what they can, live life large, have fun. If their fans make them pay a price, then live with the consequences too. But I think when it comes to pro sports (and some pseudo-pro sports), appeals to 'think of the sport' or whatever are a bit ridiculous.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:58 PM on September 08, 2003

Yes, I would agree that the humble cliche ridden 'thanks for letting me be here' crap is equally mundane and pedantic - but I can't help but feel that this sense of entitlement that seems to permeate the sports world these days is just as distasteful. Just don't like the Williams sistes I guess.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:36 AM on September 09, 2003

Though I would say that one of the funniest things I've heard in a while was my friend who suggested that trying to have sex with the William's sisters would be like "throwing a hot dog at a hallway."

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:39 AM on September 09, 2003

Sorry you don't like my style of writing, billsaysthis... good luck on your nascent writing career, anyway... i hope you one day reach a wide enough audience that other literary luminaries may be able to "pile on and poke fun" at 'writer' Bill Lazar...

posted by ossian72 at 07:40 AM on September 11, 2003

bill, I think you got some 'splaining to do.

posted by garfield at 07:52 AM on September 11, 2003

ossian, if you can't take the heat... in any case, I have been a paid author (wrote quite a bit about software and developing software during the '90s) and got numerous letters that were less than favorable. Did not make me happy but I realized they're part of the patch and moved on. Although the letter from Chris Date after I wrote an article about databases was a bit of an ego blow, must say, since he wasn't too positive. But are you saying that someone who is not a published author cannot criticize someone else's writing? That would be sad, not to mention unprofessional. Care to justify the use of such emotional language in a simple piece of reportage or just stand by your silly comeback to me?

posted by billsaysthis at 01:06 PM on September 11, 2003

Fight! Fight! Fight!

posted by garfield at 01:40 PM on September 11, 2003

garfield, if the best Mr. Shine can do is argumentum ad hominem, then there's not much fight to be had.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:20 PM on September 11, 2003

those are the best. completely devoid of rational thought, and just pure mud-slinging.

posted by garfield at 08:36 AM on September 12, 2003

Big, bad Billy-boy, of course you are at liberty to criticise the choice of language in my reports -- I am indeed flattered that you were moved to do so. There is nothing worse for a writer than being ignored or invisible... you of all people must be keenly aware of this. Constructive criticism is extremely important to a journalist. However, I'm not sure silly postings centred on "poking fun at" writers fall under this category and, for this reason, I feel little urge to justify my writing style to you. However, in the interests of educating you a little, I would point out there are a number of essential differences between my "simple piece of reportage" and the apercus incomparables with which you at one time enlightened the world. The most obvious one is that I write about people and you used to write about software. When dealing with people, the use of emotional language is often appropriate. Incidentally, I am very proud of a number of international journalism awards I have collected for my writing -- both sports and news reporting in Australiasia, Europe and the U.S. -- and assure you they are testament to the fact a good deal of people enjoy reading copy which contains insight into character and goes a touch beyond the straightforward stats-based style prevalent in U.S. publications. I suspect you have been weaned on and prefer the former. This is not your fault so, for your own good, I hereby BAN you from reading any more of my reports. I almost forgot, thank you so much for linking my name in your initial post to my author's page on my publisher's website. If you would like to critique my new book please feel free to buy a copy from there. It is also available on The Language of Tennis (how can you resist) is a somewhat academic work devoid of comment or colour. You may well find it enjoyable. Good luck with your writing, big bad Bill

posted by ossian72 at 09:36 AM on September 12, 2003

I love the cover. Anna going in for a smooch is money in the bank.

posted by garfield at 09:58 AM on September 12, 2003

Ossian, you're a good writer and you're welcome here. But you don't have to be so patronizing.

posted by vito90 at 10:31 AM on September 12, 2003

My god, we have an actual writer here? I thought Ossian was just a spoof. But now I'm wondering if this is serious. (That Language of Tennis actually looks kinda fun, too.) But wow, have we finally hit the big-time? Pretty soon, I'm expecting Anna K to come on here and say, "You naughty boys. You should stop posting pictures of me in here. (Especially you, Star******.) Naughty naughty." Hahahahahahaha.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:27 PM on September 12, 2003

btw, given the recent altercations on these hallowed grounds, I'm seeing a need for a "Taking ourselves too seriously" category.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:25 PM on September 12, 2003


posted by garfield at 01:44 PM on September 12, 2003

Ossian: I was a newspaper reporter for 10 years. Am I allowed to say that the sentence Her sublime God-given talent is backed by a steely temperament and a deep determination. should have been dragged out of the Reuters office by your editor and shot? That sentence is a cliche gang-bang, and it's bizarre for a mainstream sportswriter to declare that an athlete's talent was granted by God. How do you know that? If Hardenne were a Buddhist (or perish the thought -- an atheist), what would you have written?

posted by rcade at 02:01 PM on September 12, 2003

Clint just rolled into town, and is dusting off his six-shooter.... (tumbleweed)

posted by garfield at 02:38 PM on September 12, 2003

Wow, just wow. Kick his ass! KICK HIS ASS!!

posted by lilnemo at 02:43 PM on September 12, 2003

That sentence is a cliche gang-bang Thank you. It might be a completely unfair pull-quote and everyone's entitled to their clunkers, but it sounds like something from the very niche genre of pulp tennis writing.

posted by yerfatma at 04:04 PM on September 12, 2003

Just read the Shine story and will fall in the middle. I think it's the kind of reporting we don't get often enough something with depth and some character, something that doesn't just barf the box score back at you. When I do sports, I put a little more oomph and personality into it also. Kudos to you, Ossian. Her sublime God-given talent is backed by a steely temperament and a deep determination. That's pretty awful, though.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:24 PM on September 12, 2003

That sentence is a cliche gang-bang Pulp Friction! Her sublime God-given talent is backed by a steely temperament and a deep determination. The line qualifies for that "It was a dark and stormy night" contest, doesn't it?

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:28 PM on September 12, 2003

What bugs me most is the one sentence paragraphs. The sports editor at the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette, Wally Hall, was a serial offender in this regard. I don't know if Reuters or the author is doing the formatting, but it's annoying.

posted by mbd1 at 04:31 PM on September 12, 2003

WC: Just for the record, rcade (as he mentions) and Mr Junior Frazier are also professional writers. Ossian: Oh, such lovely, fancy language, I'm completely abashed by it. Meanwhile I will point out that I criticized your writing and not you personally but you seem not to grasp that essential difference. I stand by my remarks, that language has no place in a straightforward Reuters news article reporting on a tennis tournament. You want to write a feature article, feel free, and I'll judge the word choice quite differently. You want a book review, have your publisher send me a copy because I sure as hell wouldn't put money, even the trivial amount per copy your royalties probably are, in your pocket.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:32 PM on September 12, 2003

Okay boys, back down. I agree that's it's not typical Reuters writing, and the prose is a little wordy, but I think it's a good story than the regular barfing up of stats. But GOD, get rid of the one line paragraphs!! Writing about software hardly makes one an expert on writing about people. Cripes, I just wrote 3 chapters about Exchange 2003 and Windows 2003 Group Policy for a couple of books, and although I'm a published writer about software, I don't consider myself an expert at human interest writing. (But I can sure still have an opinion!) While I don't disagree that the writing is a little over the top for the story, frankly, Billsaythis, I haven't seen in this post where you really provide any constructive criticism of his writing, I think that's what is irking Ossian72. As you said, criticism is good when constructive and you simply haven't provided that. Do that and perhaps it will better justify your FPP about it.

posted by aacheson at 01:10 PM on September 16, 2003

AA, how is what I said not specific? I did call the writer explicitly for overly emotional fluff in a subsequent comment but I believe the high school reference and pull-out quote in the FPP are sufficient to indicate the criticism. Which by the way was about his writing and not him as a person. Writing about software hardly makes one an expert on writing about people. True enough, though I do also have a BA from a top J School to my credit. But then again the referenced article was supposedly reporting on a tennis tournament, not a feature piece for a Sunday magazine.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:26 PM on September 16, 2003

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